Archive - 2017

What Is Genuine Reciprocity?
What Strength Is Most Blocked In You?
Flow As Medicine?
In Tune With What You Want?
The UpSpiral & DownSpiral Of Wanting
Just 4 Little Words…
Thoughts, Feelings, Sleep



I used to love to play baseball because next to hitting a home run, stealing bases was the most fun.  Walking to the next base, because a team mate struck out got me ahead a little, but it was not fun at all, really.  I remember that we turned the street in the neighborhood into a baseball field and played into the twilight.  What a great preparation for learning about how to do goals in life.  The games we play give us a developing sense of direction by having clear rules.

Life is not always like that.

I wouldn’t play the game if I didn’t imagine the home run.  What are the home-runs today?  We need to know.  What if we strike-out – a lot?  There are a lot of times at bat and a lot of innings.  I never quit until the game is over.  I knew the next swing would be a home-run, or I’d get on base and steal to the next.

I remember that I was never discontent or driven to get to the next base, I was just excited at the thrill of it.

Can you be on your own “first base”, whatever it is and not be discontent or driven, but rather be in the thrill of what will get you on to second base?  Often it’s the risk of going out on a limb.

That’s the skill of real goal-development.  As fast as we can do it, discontent begs to become imagination.

How fast can you turn discontent into imagination and vision and not let it become drivenness?  Are you even really playing in the game of your life or have you turned it into “flat land” or dampened its intensity for some false sense of stale peace?

In the same way I can turn a game into discontent and drivenness because I don’t think I’m winning, can I do the same with life?  How often have you been on third base and didn’t know it?  How often was that the next hitter that would have brought us home someone or something we never expected?  Play the game, know your goals, and play well into the twilight until the light is gone.

As we play into the twilight of our lives, fully alive, an inevitable theme in having goals that are malleable and that change over time is this theme than runs between “holding on” and “letting go”.

Life and its transitions are not essentially about letting go; they are about choice and attachment.  It is the fear of attachment that drives us to hold on more tightly to what we need to move away from.  It is this that will destroy our sense of direction from having goals, more than anything else.  When we know what we want to attach to, letting go is much easier.  When we focus on what we want or even kind of want, letting go is slicker.

Attachment.  It makes many shudder.  We want no more attachments, no more entanglements, and no more things (or people) to wonder about.  But we get through major life transitions when we grow toward, when we have the courage to attach, to connect, to move forward, and to define new wantings and unclaimed desires.

© Dr. William K. Larkin



Where does goal setting belong in the coaching process?

Goals are not where you start; they simply are just not.

If you have to start with goals, and I believe that you don’t, at least begin by asking a person how they got to their goals.  You ask something like, what is it that you think these goals will give you if you accomplish them?  What are you looking for these goals to provide for you or for others?  What do you think this goal will do for you?  How will its accomplishment make you feel?  In fact, what is it that you think a sense of accomplishment will do for you?


The second question is to ask if these goals are in any way aligned with a person’s real strengths and talents.  I do not believe that everyone can accomplish anything they choose to and I think when we tell people that we, as coaches, are not being ethical.

We have ways to test people’s strengths and talents that at least give us some indication of where their real abilities might be.  But that is just the start.

Parents can tell their children that they can be anything they choose to be. Teachers can encourage their students to reach for the stars.

But professional coaches had better be more careful in these making these promises, so closely tied to their fees, and inherent in their ethics and values.

Can we tell people to dream and to vision?  Most certainly.   But these dreams and visions come from a process of learning to live in an UpSpiral, and about how flow affects that nature of what we image in our vision.

I know there are exceptions of people accomplishing great things against great odds; there are a lot who don’t.  There are those who reach their impossible dreams only to find out that the dream was impossible in giving them what they expected that it would, and they feel betrayed and as though life is meaningless.

I do think that the process of accomplishing a goal and leaving it behind, gleaning what it has taught, and discovering to what new endeavor it points is valuable. I don’t mean to undermine that as a process of learning.

See your process of accomplishing goals as the “open door” of learning, novelty, insight, and allow that to move you to take the next right step.  If you’re really tuned in, that step is likely somewhere right in front of you, at hand, ready for you to seize upon it and move ahead.

Or not.

What I do mean to assert here is that coaches have an ethical responsibility to educate their clients in the formulation of goals and visions that are sound, achievable, and truly personally fulfilling.  We may be cheer leaders for winning but the pom-poms of superficially understood metaphysicsand neuroscience need to be surrendered for real research in coaching that is both a science and a craft and a skill.

The issue that underlies the formation of goals is meaning-making.  How do we make meaning? These “meanings” are different at different times in our lives, so a knowledge of developmental issues is important.

Oftentimes goals are attempts at making meaning when the absence of meaning has not been squarely faced.

How many times I have had a client simply write down a goal and see it in front of them for them to know it isn’t what they really want to do, it’s just confabulated filler?

Goals are an essential component of the coaching process, but only when they are preceded by the necessary foundational work in the neuroplasticity of the positive mind, which pokes at what’s meaningful, what’s most personally significant, all of which take form in written goals and action steps.

© Dr. William K. Larkin

What Is Genuine Reciprocity?

“Reciprocal” is possible only when we realize what has been given to us, and we can bring that realization into a greater and greater exercise of appreciation into our lives.  When we do that, being increasingly generous is the natural outcome.

Giving out of our means isn’t just about giving from the surplus in our lives, whether that is money, goods, time, or self.

Giving from our means is an expression of giving from what sustains us to what has sustained us and enabled us to live fuller lives.

Giving back is essential to getting. Those who simply “take” never really get the message.

You have surely heard it said that there are takers and givers, or that the world could be divided into those who take and those who give.  We have all known takers, and they are usually aware only of their own needs and they usually live with a certain kind of narrowness.  They just seem not to get it. At any rate, they seem not to get the whole picture.

Takers just seem to be myopic.  There seems to be something missing from their apprehension of the world.  Perhaps it is not that they don’t want to give, or think that they really have so much, as it is that it just doesn’t seem to occur to them, not just to give from more than their surplus, but to give from their means.

And here is the rub of this notion of reciprocity. Many think they are reciprocal just by being their narrow selves, and others are too reciprocal for the wrong reason.  For sure, there are those who are takers, but it cannot be denied that there are givers who give for the wrong reasons or who give too much in the wrong places.

These givers do so to please others, or out of obligation or to be liked, perhaps even to be thought generous. These givers are certainly better than the takers for they are, but they are just not living the fullness and freedom of genuine reciprocity. They seem to miss the joy.

So we are noticing here two groups. There are those to whom it does not occur to be reciprocal.   Then there are those who give but are not reciprocal because their giving does not represent a capacity to give from the “heart” or the desire to do so.  There is not real reciprocity.

They cannot recognize what they have received and give freely and generously in response from that freedom, but rather from a sense of inner obligation rooted in other motives. Both represent blocks to giving and both reflect blocks to wholeness and the flow of reciprocity.

Growing positivity will be at odds with both of these tendencies because they do not fit into any group of a person’s strengths, because strengths are values laden.

How we are attached or how we “attach” is at the heart of this.  We are wired for reciprocity very early on, as we are wired for attachment to the world around us.

You might say that we are conditioned to be truly reciprocal from the earliest implicit memories (before our recall of memories was actually formed) and from explicit memories that we can recall.  All of this has “conditioned in” what we attach to and how we do it.  It is these patterns of attachment that will affect our reciprocity and, for sure, our means and our surplus.

© Dr. William K. Larkin

What Strength Is Most Blocked In You?

Our weaknesses are the opposite of our strengths, grown in the opposite direction of their inherent goodness.

Character defects and our “flaws” can be so strong, because their effects in us are something like the persistent stretching of a thick, thick rubber band, pulled more and more tightly and stretched more thinly inside us.

It’s an enormous amount of energy that gets trapped in that stretch and pull, until there is a snap. Something inside us seems to just give way,

Sometimes that snap is very destructive, but other times we can navigate that energy back
in the direction of its true nature – a strength that has been perverted into a flaw of our character and our basic nature.

It can bring us back to the truth of our strengths.

Author Pir V. I. Khan writes:  “The same pain that can blemish our personality can act as a creative force, burnishing it into an object of delight.”

When I worked in the Federal prison system full of “bad guys,” and they would come to talk with me, I was most impressed with the number of them who had committed crimes influenced by alcohol and drugs.

Alcohol seemed to be worse in its effect than drugs, but there was an astounding association with crime. It is gasoline for the fire of self-hate.

Minus the substance abuse problems, I wondered if many of these men would even have been there.

However, the real point to be made is that as I talked with them, I could always find their inherent goodness. There were few psychotics. There were plenty, though, who were deeply angry, essentially at themselves.

The next time you see behavior that is very negative and offensive, ask yourself what strength of character is its opposite.

Then look at yourself and ask what you dislike most, what you beat up on yourself most about, and the negative that you most notice in other people.

Then ask yourself what strength you have in yourself that is most thwarted, blocked, or submerged, wanting to express itself as the opposite of your self-recrimination.

Using your strengths, coming from your strengths, thinking from your strengths, you simply ask these strengths of yours to tell you what is the good that IS you, what good can come from any situation.

© Dr. William K. Larkin


Flow As Medicine?


Anything in life can be a flow experience.

Just go back and remind yourself of the steps for creating flow and you know that anything can be a flow activity, if you can get to “oneness” with it- forget yourself and get to that point where you are one with the music of whatever you’re doing.

Within us, at your choice to use them right on the spot, are your strengths, that are always ready to help, with just a decision to do so.

It is what we call that place of “flow and zone,” and it can become a learned choice.

What is amazing is that “flow” is like a drug or a medication.

We are concerned about the effects of drugs and medications, particularly psychotropic or psychological drugs.

What we don’t realize is that social interaction, the way we think and feel. what we talk about, and the social context around us, affects the brain as much if not more than drugs, in the long-term.

Your thoughts and feelings affect the development of neuropathways in the brain.  Negative and anxious conversations about “bad” things and people affect the amygdala of the brain, which is a center of fear, negativity, worry, and anxiety.

The more you focus on the negative, the more extensive and tightly bound are the neuropathways that are connected to the negative memories that are held by the left hemisphere.

Don’t like to take medication?  Don’t want to use drugs?

Then make “flow” the medication you use.

As it shifts you from your left hemisphere dominance to the larger picture of the right hemisphere, that sense of being one with the music, that subtle shift turns on the “feel good” chemicals, and gives you distance and perspective, and it adds to the brain’s buffer of positivity.

The more you are in flow and the more you experience being “one with the music,” the more you build it into your life. You are building your reservoir of psychological capital and you are also building a “buffer zone” of positivity.

This buffer zone protects against what is negative and creates a resistance to disease, and a greater immunology to what seems negative in life.  It will take longer for things to affect you in a negative way.

Negatives will have a shorter life.  You will be less reactive and you’ll experience less stress.

We are always moving the “lean” of the brain toward a positive state of feeling.  Focus on what is positive; your brain “runs” better.

Make positive feelings the ambient sound track of your life is another way of talking about being “one with the music” of life.  “Just this,” learned as a skill in even the most boring of tasks, can turn just about anything into an opportunity to practice focus and to forget and escape the evaluative ego.

Welcome to “flow as medicine.”

© Dr. William K. Larkin




There are oftentimes negatives in your face.

What is their wisdom?

“Ships sail out, and ships sail west,

By the very same breezes that blow:

It’s the set of the sails,

And not the gales,

That determine where they go.”

The wind in your face, that is for sure a negative, can cause you to despair of going further, or the negative can be the gift that it can be: the decision to reassess and use your for a change in direction.

Then what blew in your face becomes the energy that fills your sails.

Negativity is a warning and an indicator that leads us in another direction. We are not intended to stay in negativity, but it is a normal part of life as an indicator.

We are all going to have negative times and slumps, when we are obviously not operating with all of our cylinders of energy and positivity firing. They are called our BRAC cycle.

Our BRAC cycle happens about every 12 hours, and at one end we are at our highest and best and at the other end we are at our lowest.

BRAC is an acronym for our daily biological clock of our highest high and our lowest low within a 24 hour period. But regardless, this is not an excuse to feel worse, think worse, and expect something worse at the lowest point of your day.

Why does it happen? It is a natural flow of energy.

Why is that we can have a down day, or a down “several days?” When you all get finished asking the wrong question, which is “why”, and come up with a thousand different answers, it doesn’t matter. It just happens.

The question is how do we use it? Use the time gently and be as encouraging to yourself as you would be with your best friend.

Treat yourself as nicely and as lovingly as a friend who was having a slump. Would you beat up on them and ask them a thousand questions until you got to the very “bottom” of their souls? Of course not.

Tell yourself about how good you are when all your cylinders are firing. Tell yourself what it feels like when you’re not in a slump, tell yourself that you know you will bounce back, not only back but that you are very resilient, and that you will be feeling even better and that you will be higher and higher in your UpSpiral.

Use your NeuroPositive skills and tools and manage this BRAC cycle more effectively.

Slumps just are, and if there is a reason for them, the reason will “show up” when you feel better and it will come to you. It will just come to you if you leave it alone. In one way or another it will come to you.

The more you nag at it and dissect it and talk about, the more you create it. The best answers to your problems come when you aren’t thinking about them, or the answers surprise you when they come through someone else or a movie or a book, or just a knowing.

Stop beating your slump and yourself to death, and practice the principles that we teach in our classes and our coaching.

You become the emotions you choose to live in. Lean, just gently, peacefully lean toward the positive, if you can only do it a little.

Every negative is a gift or solution in disguise.

© Dr. William K. Larkin









In Tune With What You Want?

Let’s talk about the whole idea of a personal vibration.

It is not a new idea. You really already know about this if you listen to your “gut” or your intuition, or the sense you have when you walk into a room. It is so much a part of us that we don’t even really notice it, but we use it all the time.

However, it’s possible to be out of touch with this vibration and to be unaware of it as well.

A vibration is your “vibe,” it’s the vibe you put out to others about who and how you are. And it’s the vibe you pick up from others about who and how they are. It is so close to you it’s almost like an instinct.

It can come as a surprise, though, that we may be better at picking up someone else’s vibe more than we are aware of what is our own vibe and what makes it what it is.

But how can it be possible that three simple things- knowing what you want, believing you will get it, and openness to how it will come, can constitute your vibe?   How, you may ask, can it be that simple? It really isn’t simple.

Profound human issues are behind each one of these three measures of you. But you can be sure that the truth of them is as real as the beat of your heart and the pulse of your own personal rhythms in life. This vibe is you in profound but simple ways.

This vibe tells a very great story. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that others can pick it up so easily, at least those who are tuned in to others. Oftentimes we pick up this vibe from others before we are even conscious that we have registered it in our consciousness.

What about a vibration being like a magnet? Does it really have an attracting or “drawing” capacity?

Think about it. Does the vibe of another person attract you quickly to them or repel you from them?

As you tune into that person, does it draw you more or are you increasingly uncomfortable that there is a lack of compatibility on some level –that you are just not coming from the same place?

Or is there the other experience of “like mindedness” or that “this person ‘gets’ me or at least could when we are more acquainted?

Think also about how, the longer you are around another person’s vibe, that you have learned to be so used to their vibe that you can read them in an instant. We sometimes call it reading their “mood,” but this is much more than mood.

Mood is an outcome of what we call one’s VibeCore.

There is at the core of us this “vibe” thing and it is going to pretty well be described by three measures: wanting, believing, and openness.

A tuning fork is an instrument that allows a sensitive and trained ear to hear the correlation between a note that is played and its synchrony to the energy pitch of the tuning fork.

We are like that note being played, and our Mind can be like a tuning fork. We can become accustomed to “hearing” if our vibration is resonating with our VibeCore. This is a way of talking about what constitutes the “notes” we play and how they resonate with the rest of the world.

The questions are: are we in tune with ourselves?

Are we in a state of “mindfulness” about our inner vibrations?

Can we hear our own inner VibeCore and “tune” it in to where we want it to be, and to what we want it to be attracting in our world?

© Dr. William K. Larkin

The UpSpiral & DownSpiral Of Wanting

Have you ever gone to a store with the express purpose of buying something you needed, got home with one or two bags of things, and realized that you forgot what you went for?

You may have reasoned that you didn’t need a list, but on the way to the store, you weren’t particularly thinking about what you were going there to get. You were distracted by the traffic and the sights along the way. You found the store, and dutifully went into your destination without a thought in your mind about what you were there for.

Maybe you walked in with something gnawing on the back of your mind, but you shopped and got a few things, got distracted by a few others, found a good deal, and knew that you were in a hurry to get back home.

Then just before you got into your driveway, you realized that you didn’t get what you went for, and you weren’t about to turn around and go back and get it.

You aren’t alone, if this has happened to you,  because it has happened to most people more than one time. It is the way our brain works.

We don’t necessarily focus on what we intend to want, but more significant than that, we don’t always know what we want. In fact, a lot of the time, we don’t know what we really want.

We are much better at thinking we know what we want than we are at really knowing our wants and our desires.

Wanting and remembering what we want, and going after it, is much more significant than we give it play. We treat it something like going to the store for something that we forget. The long-term implications for living are that we can live our entire lives, and never really go after or do what we want to do.

In fact, we can live our entire lives, never ask, and never really know.

If you have dreamed a few times in your life, and you think the result has been some kind of mistake or even a disaster, you may have decided that you can’t trust what you dream or that what you want deeply just isn’t going to be yours.

If you have failed at what you dream many times, you may have decided that you are a failure for having had such dreams, and being foolish enough to follow them.

You were foolish not to have followed them.

Whether or not you were foolish doesn’t begin to be the issue. The issue is what have you learned. Or if you realized, considered, and were open to the learning, what has it taught you?

Many people just close off, not only to what they are dreaming, wanting, and desiring, but they have learned to trust someone else’s dreams or someone else’s best plan for them, deeply believing that their own “wanting” is flawed. That’s a good description of life in a DownSpiral.

You will never find what you want in a DownSpiral, at the bottom of the barrel, or going down further into it.

What you name in a DownSpiral is usually a reaction to not feeling good, it comes from resistance, or tiredness, or exasperation. They are not the ideas that will fulfill you.

When you are in a DownSpiral, you do not think of things in a realistic way, that will make you happy in the long term. And even though there may be exceptions, it is not the rule and not the easy way to do this. It is not the way that remains firm.

One requirement for identifying what you deeply want is to stay in an UpSpiral and use your strengths as guides.

© Dr. William K. Larkin


Just 4 Little Words…


The answer to this question is largely determined by another question…

Where is your focus?


We have been conditioned to believe that the past determines the future, when it is actually the future that determines the present.

How you see the future, not how you are bound by the past, is much more important.

What we believe the future will be and imagining into that future creates the vitality of the present. It is the source of creativity in the present and it is the essence of hope, possibility, and vitality.

We usually do not spend a great deal of time thinking about the future after we are 10 or 12, but we do have a very powerful, vague idea of how it is going to be. It is taking that vague notion of the future and filling it with dreams, goals, and the power of the imagination that changes our mind-set from being fixed to being open and available for growth.

Just as an exercise, imagine six impossible things before breakfast. You will be using parts of your brain that are vital to the overall health of your brain.

Read this one more time: It is the future that determines the present. It is your vague, almost unconscious notion of the future that is doing a great big job on you, your mood, your apprehensions, and your daily zest, vitality and creativity.

Ordinary mental life is chock-full of this activity. Mind wandering, day-dreaming and fantasy are the least of it. In an ordinary conversation, for example, the mind is continually “running ahead” of present stimuli, exploring possibilities for the meaning of the other’s remarks or for one’s own next response.

The left frontal lobe of your brain, just to name one part, is about visioning and direction. It works in tandem with the right hemisphere to get the “whole picture” and then to make choices about future directions.

If you don’t use this part of your brain for this purpose of visioning, it goes over and over the sorting process of what is simply there already –round and round and round. If you don’t use this part of your brain, you dwell on the mundane, what the neighbors are doing, and you talk more about other people than you talk about ideas.

What do you think your future will bring? What are you expecting? What is most influencing your future, the evening news report and the stock exchange numbers, the size of your bank account, or the size of your imagination?

No invention, no real progress was ever brought to fruition without imaging some greater part of the process. The point of change is when we get off the problem and say, “what’s next?” The Mind will answer back from the open empty part, not the problem-filled focus.

You have an idea of the future, and it is much more significant than your past. Unearthing your past will not engage your future. Transformational moments happen when we begin to imagine possibilities. If you have to dig up your past to get to the place where you can do that, then do it.

But if you don’t, just consider this: what is possible?

© Dr. William K. Larkin

Thoughts, Feelings, Sleep

What’s the connection?

Think about this.

With every thought and feeling, you are affirming something.

What you affirm, what you think and feel,  add up neuron by neuron into the neuropathways of the brain that become an ambient mood than leans in the direction of a way of believing and thinking.

It is not as though we base our thoughts on facts; to the contrary, that is seldom the case unless make that our intention.

Every thought and feeling is affirming something that is a building block upon which you are building your predisposition to mood and thought.

What are you affirming throughout the day?

What is your mood, what are your feelings, what are you thinking?

In our Emotional Gym, you learn to “lift” the weight of a positive emotion.

You start small and then make the feeling heavier, weightier. You can learn to get there in instant, you can learn to nurse a positive feeling in the same way you nurse a negative one, and then you can intensify those feelings.

What are you affirming as you think and feel?

Why feelings and not thoughts?

We think our thoughts are all powerful, but they are very often simply the expressions of patterns of “used to” feelings that have originated in the oldest part of the brain, the amygdala.

There we have learned to associate and feel almost instantaneously the feelings we so subtly and usually feel, that we don’t even know they are driving our moods, our anxieties, and our ups and downs.

And in case you’re skeptical about these thought and feeling patterns you’re creating every day, here’s the research on sleep that you need to know.

You need an average of 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

This gives the brain an opportunity to flush out the “clutter” that builds up, like protein plaques and beta amyloid tangles, through an ingenious disposal mechanism called the glymphatic system.

Over the long term, that can buffer you against cognitive decline, dementia, even Alzheimer’s.

What you think and feel, what you habitually “affirm” during your day, MATTERS.

What are you affirming as you enter into sleep?

© Dr. William K. Larkin

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute